How To Develop Great Presentation Skills – 7 Strategies for Tackling Questions You Don’t Know Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I laid out the importance of handling questions which stump us. Lets recap the first three strategies which we have discussed:

o Toss it Back – Repeat the question and toss it back to your audience;

o “Let me check and get back to You” – Write down the question and make sure you revert to the questioner on the promised date and time;

o Tit for Tat – Posing another question to question the questioner for asking that question (a tongue twister). This method helps to diffuse the situation and adds more understanding to the topic you are presenting.

Let us examine the rest of the other 4 strategies:

4. “That is A Good Question”

Compliment the questioner. This will only be effective if the compliment is sincere. Sometimes we tend to believe that we have seen and heard it all on a particular topic. But someone from somewhere will always come up with a question that we have never thought of. If that happens just say “That’s a great question. I’ve never thought about it that way. Does anyone here have any ideas on that?” (You toss back the question back to the audience). The key here is you must sound sincere. It always works when it’s sincere because the audience love to be complimented. If no one in the audience steps forward with a reply, just use the “Let me check and get back to you” technique.

5. “Any Experts Here?”

What do you do when a question falls out of your area of expertise? You may be a marketing expert but the question asked deals with the technical aspects of a product. This is a question that requires the input of say an engineer. If you know that there is an engineer in the room you could say, “Peter, you are an engineer. Can we tap on your experience for this question?” If there are no engineers in the room, tell the questioner that you will confer with an engineer and get back to them (technique 2).

6. Offer Similar Answers

If you don’t know the exact answer to a question, offer what you do know quickly to demonstrate some credibility. Then use the “I’ll get back to you” technique. Refrain from droning on and on about your parallel knowledge or you will be accused of beating round the bush! This hurts your credibility.

7. Lay the Ground Rules

You can avoid many difficult questions simply by laying the ground rules for questions in the beginning. Whenever you present to a group, you are the leader. You are accountable for everything, so lead. My experience is that if you set rules and follow them, the audience respects you. If you make rules up as you go along, you lose credibility. The number of rules you set will vary depending on the topic. If your presentation is very technical, you can use “I welcome general questions at any time about anything on the agenda. If you have a specific question please see me at a break for a private consultation. Since we have limited time, I reserve the right to stop taking questions and comments. This is to make sure that we cover everything today.” This line always works!

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